Who ARE The Most Inspiring People in the World?

1. Someone who has struggled.

2. Someone who has struggled with abuse.

3. Someone who has struggled with abuse and addiction.

4. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction and depression.

5. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression and anxiety.

6. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety and thoughts of “ending it all.”

7. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all” but made the choice to keep going.

8. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going and sought help.

9. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help and succeeded in helping themselves.

10. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves and then saw how many other people are struggling, too.

11. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves, saw how many other people are struggling, too, and decided to do something about it.

12. Someone who has struggled with abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, thoughts of “ending it all,” made the choice to keep going, sought help, succeeded in helping themselves, saw how many other people are struggling, too, decided to do something about it, and did it by having the GUTS to share their stories.

Look for someone who has the courage to share their extremely difficult journeys, their utterly heart-wrenching stories. Listen and do not judge. Instead, learn from them. You have just found one of the world’s most inspiring people.

How Keeping a Gratitude Journal Helps Me Beat Depression

Shortly after I was diagnosed with BPD, I came across the idea of keeping a Gratitude Journal. I’d been researching different types of therapies that I could do by myself at home and discovered Journal Therapy. Though truthfully, it was more of a re-discovery. I’d kept a journal religiously as a child and at a few points during adulthood, so I already knew it was quite therapeutic, I just hadn’t known it was an organized style of therapy.

The suggestion to keep a Gratitude Journal kept popping up in several locations that touted the healing effects of Journal Therapy. I’ll admit, though I read about it several times, I kept dismissing the idea. And the reason why seems rather silly to me now. In a nutshell, it sounded too simple. I thought: how can keeping a list of things for which I am grateful make that much of a difference in my life? It just didn’t seem possible. Well, of course not. When you’re stuck in a negative thought pattern, virtually nothing sounds promising – basically, you can’t see the forest for the trees. It makes sense. How do you make yourself feel grateful when you’re not? Sometimes you’re just too depressed to feel any gratitude at all.

At a time when I was more depressed than I’d ever been, I thought the answers to my problems somehow couldn’t be as simple as keeping a list. I didn’t feel simple. I felt very complicated, uncertain, perplexed and convinced, of course, that nothing could make me feel better. How to get away from those negative feelings then just had to be elaborate! Ah, the ironic joy of hopelessness!

Staying stuck in the same old rut had its rewards. If I thought the answers had to be terrifically complex, then I could avoid helping myself and stay a victim forever. And the fun in that? Well, you get to keep throwing yourself one pity party after another.

But one day I decided to try it. I figured even if it did absolutely nothing for me, it couldn’t cause any harm.

At first, I wasn’t that motivated, so I didn’t keep a “real” list – a legitimate journal. I’d just scratch out one or two things on a sticky note, the backs of envelopes and receipts, or even next to an inspiring paragraph I read in a novel. But at some point, I realized it was helping. I felt better, more positive, less depressed, when I concentrated on feeling grateful. With that awakening, I moved to whole sheets of paper. Oooo! Ok, so the migration didn’t improve my organization, not right away. I’d often write something down at odd angles and just circle what I’d wrote, so the result was a bunch of text-filled bubbles on a plain piece of paper. One day, though, I noticed that these sheets were adding up. Instead of writing one thing on Tuesday, six things on Friday, and perhaps two on Sunday, I was adding several items each day. Whoa! That’s when I sat down and really thought about the difference it was making. It had become a habit and a good one at that. I did feel better, no longer quite so hopeless, hapless and helpless. I took a leap then and went out and bought myself a pretty bound journal. Since then, I look forward to filling one up and starting another. They help me stay positive now, but even better – maybe someday they will inspire my great-grandchildren.

Following is a sampler, a partial list of benefits I’ve uncovered so far. A year ago, I never could have imagined so many. I am actually grateful for gratitude. If you think about it, that’s pretty powerful.

  • Keeping a Gratitude Journal helps me stay focused on the present. Zen mind. It keeps me from spending too much time thinking about the warts of the past and the bunions of the future. What’s in front of me or within me, right this minute, that I can appreciate?
  • Over time, the journals have increased my overall awareness, period.
  • They have helped me slowly establish positive thought patterns instead of negative ones. Oh sure, I still get downright pessimistic sometimes, but instead of despair-dwelling for ten hours at a time, or even several days, I will feel contrary for a few moments – maybe an hour. This is obviously a major improvement. Looking for the negative in anything and everything used to be the norm for me, but now I find that more frequently I’m automatically looking for something more optimistic.
  • I say “thank you” more. The more I say “thank you” the more my family appreciates me and says “thank you” back. It has helped improve my relationships.
  • Finding things to be grateful for has reduced my feelings of anger considerably. I don’t even think I could measure the difference. It’s hard to be mad when you’re feeling grateful for something!
  • The more grateful I am, the more grateful I want to be. A wonderful ripple effect in place!
  • Gradually I’ve learned that I don’t need STUFF to make me happy. I can be grateful for things like air, sunshine, water, clouds, my own breathing and even the spotting of a lizard scampering happily (I’m assuming) in my garden. I am happy now with things that don’t come in shrink-wrapped packages. I don’t need a shopping fix in order to feel better.
  • Quite naturally, I take less for granted. I think about the gift of electricity, as an example. I can curl up on the couch at 9 pm, with a hot cup of peppermint tea, and write in my Gratitude Journal – electricity makes this possible. It’s so much easier to form letters sitting next to light bulbs. Yes, I’ve tried it by candle light, just to get a glimpse of what it might have been like to write at night a few hundred years ago. The ambiance is lovely, but penning in my journal is a bit on the difficult side.
  • Establishing this one good habit motivated me to create more of them. From the simple act of being grateful, I’ve been able to trash many of my maladaptive coping strategies and replace them with adaptive coping strategies.
  • Keeping track of what I am grateful for has allowed me to reduce the intense sting I’ll feel when I think I’m being rejected. Of course, being Borderline means I can be quite sensitive to rejection, but whenever I feel that way I can pull out a Gratitude Journal and remind myself of positive events – times when I was accepted in some way. After reading a few pages, I am back to coping in a healthy way.

Obviously keeping a Gratitude Journal is not a magic pill. There is no happy fairy dust. But it helps, tremendously. I am far less depressed. As more proof of its power, I offer this: I don’t take any psychiatric medications. I used to, but I don’t need them anymore. Of course, keeping a Gratitude Journal isn’t the only way I have learned to manage my moods (more posts coming soon) and it’s not the only way that I was eventually able to table the pills, but I encourage all to take that leap of faith and give it a shot, it really helps that much.

Blessed by Adversity

As a four year-old I was quite obviously in charge of keeping my head safe by escaping. I had the Itty Bitties; I had the bats. I also had glorious cows to watch (ah, a daytime activity), from the tippy-top of an enormous pile of dirt. Our neighbors were farmers and I’d spend hours up there, waiting, scrutinizing. For some reason, I made a part-time career out of cow observation. Now, there was no MOO-la in it, of course, but I was praised by the farmer and his wife every time I’d spot a cow who was also, coincidentally, escaping – from the fenced-in pasture. The praise was worth more than any amount of money. Oh, how sweet, tantalizing and delectable it was! Better than the most delicious kind of cheesecake. Of course, if you don’t like cheesecake, then you’ll have to think of your own analogy. :-)

Looking back, I realize how adept I was at finding ways to liberate myself from emotional pain. I found so many methods! Cow observation, bat contemplation, and mouse conversation! Mouse conversation? There was an adorable mouse that showed up many nights to chew through the outside-facing wall of my bedroom. I’d talk to the little critter on the nights he or she showed up to make more holes, his or her cute pink nose poking through them.

Well, all this writing about overcoming, escaping, the ability to deal with what life dishes out, led me to think about adversity. Adversity is the best blessing, a wonderful teacher, if you choose to see it that way.

Kids are pretty tough beings, that is true enough, and if I think about what I had to learn how to handle as a child I’m amazed. But what’s more amazing are the things I’ve had to battle as an adult. Oh, the adversity-versity!

Once I’d been broken-in by the abuse I received from my family, it was easy enough for other abusers to get hold of me. I am still stunned by the number of abusive people I’ve pulled into my life. I never knew, I never saw, but thank God now I do. My original abusers were disguised as parents and other family members. Later abusers would be disguised as schoolmates and friends – as teachers, guidance counselors and other school staff. And of course, much later, abusers would disguise themselves as boyfriends. The worst abuser of my life showed up around age twenty. Me – my very self. And of course the most awful part of that was that I had no idea I was abusing myself. Well, if abuse isn’t adversity I don’t know what is.

But it doesn’t stop there, I’ve had to face the adversity of being very physically ill, from the moment I was born, pretty much. There are days I can barely walk and doing dishes is an accomplishment. Oh, I shall not forget discrimination. There is more of that adversity stuff. I’ve been discriminated against for having mental health issues and physical health problems alike – one just as trying and painful as the other. What’s surprising is how common this is – it happens all the time. The weak ones really do get it!

But then, like a phoenix does rise from the ashes, you can choose to view adversity as your best friend, as a patient and loving teacher, as a wise guru. From an abundance of adversity determination can come. From determination, a few small successes. From the few small successes, CONFIDENCE. From confidence, more success. And from that, a life really worth living. Time, time, time. It just takes time. And then, you don’t feel weak anymore, you feel STRONG.

I’m not sorry my body is sick. I’m not sorry I’ve been abused – physically, sexually or emotionally. I’m not sorry I’ve suffered terrible psychological suffering! I’m not even sorry I’ve felt the sting, many times, of discrimination. In short, I’m not sorry for the adversity that’s shown up quite a bit in my life. On the contrary, I am blessed by it.

Adversity is a lamp that lights the way out of darkness. I am blessed by adversity.


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